by Amy K. Bredemeyer
Family Matters, which is apparently known to today's youngsters as "The Urkel Show" (I don't know that ANY of the elementary schoolers I taught this summer EVER called it "Family Matters"), ran for nine seasons from the late 80s through most of the 90s. It was a spin-off from Perfect Strangers (which I am slowly in the process of seeing every episode of), and had quite a popular life. For the past ten years or so, near-constant airings of old episodes on channels like TBS and Nick-at-Nitehave almost flooded the interest market... only the first season has been released on DVD in the United States, and that was just this summer!
The show never broke into the Top 10 shows of a season, but generally hovered around #30 (except the final season, which aired on CBS instead of ABC, where the show finished at #99!), and the good plotlines came and went (probably because certain characters gained popularity and hence more episodes were devoted to the likes of Myra and Stefan, among others). I think the best seasons were 3-7 or so. There are some fantastic things in the early seasons as well, but the last couple are really hard to watch, and coincidentally, I don't seem to catch them in reurns as much, either.
Season 1: "Mr. Badwrench" (S01E08) Carl sets out to renovate a bathroom for his mother while she's out of town. The job turns out to be much larger than he was expecting, and Eddie isn't the greatest help. Harriette keeps suggesting that they hire a contractor, but Carl is dead-set on completing the job himself. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Season 2: "Busted" (S02E19) Eddie and Urkel go to an underground casino (fronted by a bakery) to obtain enough money to fix the car (Eddie got into YET ANOTHER accident). But, the funnier storyline is that Carl mixes the ashes of Harriette & Rachel's great aunt with those in the fireplace and has to act like nothing happened... Part 1 | Part 2 [I'm not counting on this working very long, it's only been up a couple weeks]
Season 3: "Born to be Mild" (S03E09) The Dragons gang makes an appearance. First, they tear up Rachel's Place, the diner that Rachel runs, then they beat up Eddie pretty badly. When Eddie enters the diner all bloody, it shocks me... every time. Urkel ends up being the savior, wearing a wire and infiltrating the gang to get them to confess. [no video]
Season 4: "Mama's Wedding" (S04E19) Estelle and Fletcher are preparing to marry, but Carl wants them to have a much larger affair than they desire. They eventually all come to terms on the small ceremony, but it ends up being a rocking event anyway... Waldo put the wrong date on house party invitations, and Eddie's friends show up at what was supposed to be an adult-free house. [no video]
Season 5: "It Didn't Happen One Night" (S05E02) Laura misses the bus with her cheerleading friends, so she can't go to Cincinnati for the competition unless she finds another ride. Urkel must take her, but Laura is constantly annoyed with his problematic vehicle. They end up breaking down and staying the night in a run-down motel, where Steve finally confronts Laura over her behavior. Meanwhile, Carl is upset about the public displays of affection that Fletcher and Estelle show one another... as he never kisses Harriette in public. [no video]
Season 6: "The Gun" (S06E15) In perhaps one of the most memorable episodes of the series, this "very special episode" centers on gun safety and control. It all starts when Laura gets pretty beat-up when some gang members want her jacket. She begins to fear for her safety, and considers buying a gun. Steve begs her not to, and we cut to a shooting at school: rather than beating the next girl up, she gets shot when she won't give up her shoes. Then we get a fun rap by Steve, and Laura and Steve head up a "turn in your weapon" drive. Here's the rap & the PSA:
Season 7: "The Naked and the Nerdy" (S07E02) The title comes from the storyline where Laura and Steve see one another naked when they both go to take showers. However, the amusing part of the episode is the plot where Carl is holding onto a diamond bracelet for a neighbor, so the neighbor's wife doesn't find it. Harriette ends up finding it, and assumes it's a very expensive anniversary gift for herself! Carl has to come clean. Part 1 | Part 2 [note, sound quality is poor]
Season 8: "Father Time" (S08E16) I'm always a fan of alter-life episodes, where we see "what could have been" (except for the one in Friends... that two-parter is weird). In this one, Steve and Carl go back to the 70s and Carl gives himself some stock tips (I *believe* they were Microsoft & Holiday Barbie, but not positive) and ends up being the richest guy ever. But he has no kids (and they act like Judy never existed, as they only mention Laura and Eddie not being born). Plus, Harriette and he are getting a divorce. It's a very sad alternative, but it's interesting nonetheless. [no video]
Season 9: "Lost in Space, Part I" (S09E21) This is the first half of the series finale. Eddie, who dropped out of college a while back to become a cop, has really started worrying Harriette, so she gets him assigned to parking meter violations. He ends up getting shot anyway, but lives because he had a bullet-proof vest. Meanwhile, NASA buys the patent to one of Urkel's artificial-gravity inventions, and wants Urkel to go up into space and test it with the astronauts. He does, but problems occur and he ends up possibly trapped in space (he makes it home in part II). [no video]